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Del Rosario reigns in the wind

LUBAO, Pampanga – Pauline del Rosario shrugged off Princess Superal’s early challenge and bucked the day-long gale-force wind to rule the ICTSI Pradera Verde Ladies Classic in emphatic fashion at the Pradera Golf and Country Club here yesterday.

Del Rosario nearly blew a three-stroke lead with an early bogey and a Superal birdie on No. 4 but recovered in time with gutsy play in severe condition, pouncing on her chief rival’s backside meltdown with back-to-back birdies from No. 15 to shoot a 71 and post a whopping seven-stroke victory over Superal and Thai Tirapan Yoopan.

“I knew Ces can win at any given day, even at the last minute. But the wind was my toughest challenge, it’s too strong,” said Del Rosario, whose closing one-under card gave her a 54-hole total of nine-under 209. “I told myself that if I could play through it (wind), I could win so I took it one shot at a time and went for the fairway and the green.”

The ploy worked as Del Rosario rebounded from a 37 start with a slew of pars before hitting two late birdies to secure the win, her third in her rookie year after dominating the Orchard and Baguio stops of the circuit sponsored by ICTSI.

Superal, who assumed the challenger’s role with a 67 in the second round, pulled to within one with a birdie on No. 4 and after Del Rosario dropped a stroke on the third. But she failed to sustain her charge in the wind, bogeying No. 6 then falling farther behind with another bogey on No. 14 before yielding the crown with a double-bogey on the par-3 15th.

Taking the cue, Del Rosario birdied Nos. 15 and 16 inside six feet, turning what was expected to be a down-to-the-wire finish into a runaway triumph worth another P150,000.